AND ACROSS THE NATION

The Hartford Courant
January 26, 2008

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – This is Rudy
Country.
At least, that's the promise made by Rudy
Giuliani's ever-present campaign signs.
As the first primaries came and went, "America's
mayor" drove the long, flat highways of the
Sunshine State. He stopped his caravan - a pearl-
white Cadillac and twin black Chevy Tahoes - at
hotels and restaurants and any place with a crowd.

He climbed the stages and vowed, "We're making
our stand here in Florida!"
But if the polls are right this time, Florida may be
his Alamo. He's nowhere near the favorite. In fact,
a cluster of Florida polls revealed this week that
he's struggling for third place.
In his apparent Florida-or-nothing strategy,
winning this state's 57 Republican delegates on
Tuesday could deliver momentum just before the
Feb. 5 primaries and caucuses in more than 20
states, including Connecticut. But the flaw in that
strategy seems to be that Florida people aren't just
paying attention to the guy right in front of them.
They've been watching the other primaries, too,
and success is breeding success.
Giuliani, who didn't spent much time in Iowa, New
Hampshire or Michigan, crashed in those contests.
But even as those tough numbers kept coming in,
Giuliani stuck to the plan. The night before the
Republican primary in South Carolina last week, he
stumped in Florida's Space Coast.
First, he called together a "round table" of space
experts. (When you woo this part of Florida, you
do it with an eye to the heavens.) He brought
together the big names in space exploration -
government and private sector - to promise them
he'd fix what was wrong with America's space
program.
The experts gathered in a Radisson Hotel ballroom.
The public was kept outside, waiting in the warm
rain for a good look at the former New York
mayor. In the moments before his arrival, a black
cat scurried across the building's entrance.
Giuliani emerged from the Cadillac to cheers. "How
ya doin', Rudy?" somebody shouted. Inside, the
space experts stood around their square "round
table" to wait for his entrance and applauded when
he came in.
He told them a Giuliani presidency will return
America to the dominance it has lost in space. "The
U.S. will be the first nation that puts somebody on
Mars," he said.
"We're not a limited people. We're not a people
who think small," he told them. "We're here
because we came from people who had grand
visions."
Minutes later, a crowd was gathering at the
American Police Hall of Fame in nearby Titusville.
As presidential campaigns go, it was a pretty
standard-size room for a rally. But Giuliani fans
had filled only half of it. While "Ramblin' Man"
played over the speakers, an organizer gave them
their orders: Don't wave your signs between the
mayor and the TV cameras. "We need the whole
nation to see this," she told them.
The crowd was then directed in a chant of "Rudy,
Rudy, Rudy" as the candidate stepped to the stage
and opened with the promise, "We're going to make
Florida count!"
Still in space country, he kept up his celestial
campaigning, but that was his only detour from the
bedrock of his platform: terrorism and taxes. He
said the country needs a much bigger military to
deal with terrorism "and to deter other countries
from challenging us in the future." He said, "I will
keep us on offense in the Islamic terrorist war
against us."
He said he favors "the largest tax reduction in U.S.
history," and would create a one-page tax form and
lower corporate taxes to stimulate job growth.
"You have to think big. You have to think bold.
You have to think in large concepts in order to
accomplish anything."
Then he told the Floridians: "I can't do any of this
without you."
Mars. Tax cuts. Terrorism. Giuliani seems to push
the well-worn issues of President Bush, only more
so. But despite his constant stumping in Florida,
where the roads are dense with New York and New
Jersey license plates, he hasn't maintained the
dominant lead he once had. And his time here has
weakened his support elsewhere.
Take Connecticut. As recently as November, he
was easily the lead Republican on the ballot,
according to a poll commissioned by The Courant.
In that survey, among a small sample of registered
Republicans, conducted from Nov. 1-6, 2007,
Giuliani had a double-digit lead over his closest
Republican contender, Arizona Sen. John McCain.
But in the latest polling, done from Jan. 9-17 by
the same pollster, the Center for Survey Research
and Analysis at the University of Connecticut, the
New York luminary earned an anemic 16 percent of
the Republican primary vote in his backyard state,
now trailing McCain by double digits.
"His problem overall is that he bet the farm on
Florida," said Monika McDermott, director of the
polling center and a political science professor.
"Florida is very far away from Connecticut."
"He's just been absent completely from the scene
since the start of the contest. You can't do that as a
candidate," she said. The other candidates have
been busy winning the earlier states, "taking all the
media attention, sucking all of the air out of the
room."
When Connecticut was still oxygen-rich for
Giuliani, Don Burns, president of Milford's Burns
& Kelly Insurance, sent him a donation. Burns
wanted to back a candidate he thought could beat
Clinton. Besides that: "The only thing I want out
of the federal government is to make sure the world
doesn't blow up on me."
For that, he said, Giuliani was his man. Months
later, he still intends to vote for Giuliani in
Connecticut's primary, even if he doesn't expect his
candidate to win. Burns doesn't have much
confidence in the Florida scheme. "The plan doesn't
necessarily look like it's working."
Chris Healy, chairman of the Connecticut
Republican Party, said Friday, "He's got people
out there working on his behalf. Like any
campaign, there are ups and downs." But Healy
added, "[Giuliani] certainly enjoys legitimate
support."
Marshaling the message in Florida, Giuliani's
spokeswoman there, Maria Comella, insists:
"We've been running a national strategy." But she
adds, in a serious understatement, "It's important
for the mayor to be successful here."
Comella didn't stray from the best-man-for-our-
nation message; she didn't want to talk about odds
and polls. "I'm not going to comment on the polls.
That's not what we're focused on. This is a very
tight race," she said.
"We're focused on Tuesday."
On Thursday night in Boca Raton, Giuliani joined
the other GOP hopefuls at a debate. He got
questions on the economy ("I'm the only one who's
turned around a government economy") and the
war in Iraq ("I'm for it," he said, not because of
polls but because America is at war with terrorism.)
Candidate Ron Paul followed that answer by
saying the invasion of Iraq wasn't worth the cost.
The audience, which had been asked not to make
any noise that night, cheered the Texas
congressman.
The moderators also brought up claims that
Giuliani was vindictive and arrogant as mayor of
New York. Sen. John McCain answered that
himself, calling Giuliani "an American hero."
When Giuliani was asked about his declining poll
numbers, he predicted a come-from-behind victory
a la the New York Giants in Sunday's National
Football Conference title game. After he wins
Florida, he said, "I think we're going to do very
well on Feb. 5."
An editorial in the following day's New York
Times, Giuliani's hometown paper, pushed him
aside to choose McCain for its Republican
endorsement. The editorial savaged the former
mayor, accusing him of being reckless with New
Yorkers' money and exploiting 9/11 as campaign
fuel.
All of last year, Giuliani was among the leaders in
raising cash. By the end of the last disclosure
period a few months ago, the campaign had
received $44.6 million in contributions, according
to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
He had the great name recognition then, and status
as the savior of Manhattan, McDermott pointed
out. But now, she said, "If he weren't Rudy
Giuliani, he wouldn't be in the press at all. At this
point, he is coasting on his name."
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